No doubt, the connection was unintended, but the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

For among the animals filling the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Library’s walls is a painting of what appears to be St. Francis of Assisi blessing a gathering of animals. The title doesn’t indicate the brown-robed main character is St. Francis. Marjorie Blake simply called it “Blessing of the Animals.”

But viewers won’t be able help making this connection, especially with the formal installment of Pope Francis in the week leading up to the opening reception of the International Exhibition of Animals in Art at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 23.

This is the 26th year the vet school has staged this show. A portion of the exhibit’s art sales will benefit the library.

Seventy-five art pieces were accepted for the show, and though Blake’s watercolor and gouache piece is smaller than some by other artists in this show, it definitely makes a statement.

For it not only commemorates history but also the vet school’s work. Then again, Margi Hopkins’ color pencil piece, “Who Rescued Whom,” also could be representative of the school’s work.

The picture shows a man and his dog. The man’s longtime, faithful dog recently had died, and his family asked him to accompany them on a trip to the local animal shelter.

Family members said they were looking for a dog.

“But then this dog jumped into his lap,” Christine Russell, library director, said of the man in the picture. “It was love at first sight. So Margi Hopkins titled it ‘Who Rescued Whom,’ and I love this piece, because this is what the vet school is all about, and it’s what this show is about.”

The exhibit runs through Sunday, April 21, so there’s plenty of time to see this work by artists from throughout the United States, along with one from Canada.

Baton Rouge artist Sam Corso was both judge and juror. He received his bachelor of fine art degree in painting and drawing in 1975 from LSU, where he studied under Tom Cavanaugh and Harvey Harris. He earned his master of fine art degree in stained glass in 1977, also from LSU, where his major professor was Paul A. Dufour.

Corso has excelled as a multi-media artist and continues to create in stained glass, mosaics, bronze sculpture and watercolor and oil pastel on paper. He also is president and owner of Dufour-Corso Studios.

“Sam Corso has been a wonderful judge,” Russell said. “He was given the artwork to judge, but he wasn’t given the artists’ names or the states they are from.”

One hundred and seventy-nine artists from 35 states and Canada submitted 426 entries to the International Exhibition of Animals in Art.

“Sam said the entries were strong for this show,” Russell said. “He chose 75 pieces by separate artists. In the past, we’ve had more than one entry by the same artists, but not this year.”

The exhibition annually is open to all artists age 18 and older. All media are welcome and accepted, but the work must be original.

A $1,000 Best of Show award will be given, and one entry will be chosen to appear on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Other awards include the Judge’s Award, Honorable Mention, the People’s Choice Award and the School of Veterinary Medicine Award.

The rest is left up to viewers, for everyone surely will have their favorites.

A favorite could be Lafayette artist Juanita David’s piece, “Smallest Bird, Largest Egg,” featuring a small bird painted in acrylics on an actual emu egg. David sent the piece in a large jar.

“She said we could take it out of the jar to put it on display, but I think I’m going to keep it in the jar to protect it,” Russell said.

Another favorite may be Slidell artist Dana Sherlock’s mixed media piece, “New Day Unfoaling.” This is a framed, three-dimensional piece showing a horse nuzzling her newborn baby.

“We have a lot of horses in the show this year,” Russell said.

But don’t worry. There also are plenty of works to meet the preferences of dog and cat lovers, including Baton Rouge artist Carolyn Ricapito’s collage, “Katrina Dog,” and New York artist Sue Wall’s acrylic on board portrait of a tortoise shell cat, titled “Patterns in Nature.”

So, in the end, there’s something for everyone. Dogs, cats, horses, birds and cows.

Even a little bit of history.